Equitable Economic Development program marks first year

Equitable Economic Development program marks first year Main Photo

3 Aug 2023

Equitable Economic Development

Bilingual Business Advisor Jorge Estefan joined EDASC in May 2022, and has worked over the past year to develop EDASC’s Equitable Economic Development program. Through the program, Skagit County’s Latino community, and other underserved communities, can receive assistance to establish and grow businesses. 

Part of Estefan’s role is discovering underserved communities’ business needs and connecting them with the appropriate resources, technical assistance, and organizations that can meet those needs.

“By providing these resources, we aim to overcome language barriers, cultural barriers and systemic discrimination,” Estefan said.

Over the last year, Estefan has connected with the Latino business community to gauge the needs of entrepreneurs and small business owners. 

Many need technical assistance to navigate digital governmental and business platforms as well as a basic understanding of avenues to access capital, he said. He offers both personalized help to businesses as well as workshops to provide education and assistance in these areas.

Among the highlights from the program’s first year, Estefan assisted 63 established businesses and 14 new businesses, along with establishing partnerships with other businesses, organizations and agencies to grow the businesses assistance ecosystem for Latino business owners. 

Establishing trust within the Latino community is an important element to serving this population, Estefan said, which means developing personal relationships and opportunities to gather. That is why Estefan will begin offering monthly meetups for Latino business owners and entrepreneurs this fall. The first one will take place Sept. 7 at Whidbey Coffee in Burlington.

Also coming this fall, EDASC is partnering with the Governor's Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance (ORIA) to bring the Latino Business Conference to Skagit County. This conference connects businesses to state agencies, such as the Department of Revenue, Department of Commerce and Labor & Industries, and will be presented in Spanish. The conference has taken place in cities around the state, and Estefan actively pursued bringing the conference to Skagit County. An English-language version will also be offered. For details, email jorge@skagit.org.